“I know Indy is known for offense all the time,” said third-year linebacker Jerrell Freeman. “We have a great offense here and I’m blessed to be at a place like this with the offense, but we definitely want everybody to know that we do have a defense and we’re going to be up for any challenge.”
Perhaps perception is changing into a different reality this season. The Colts’ defense is No. 1 in third-down stops, and continued that trend against the Bengals, who converted only one of 13. Cincinnati managed just 135 total yards.
A Colts defense with 16 sacks the previous four games had four more as Cory Redding, Bjoern Werner, Ricky Jean Francois and Zach Kerr celebrated getting to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bengals had allowed just two sacks in the previous five games.
Remember how Werner had only one hurry in his first two games this season? The second-year outside linebacker now has a team-high four sacks.
Inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, team’s leading tackler for the season, had a team-high seven stops. Freeman added six, one for a loss as well as a pass defended. He took a knee to the ribs, but returned to the game.
“To be able to shut out the Bengals, one of the best teams in the AFC North, it was something just be thankful about,” Jean Francois said.
The Bengals didn’t drive into Colts’ territory until the fourth quarter.
“We can play better,” Pagano said. “I know we can and we will.”
The Bengals didn’t earn a first down until the second quarter, when Colts outside linebacker Erik Walden was ejected for making contact with an official.
Walden had been engaged with Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham before the incident. Pagano said he thought the contact with the official was unintentional.
“I didn’t see what went down,” the coach said. “I’m going to have to wait to see the tape. (Referee) Gene (Steratore) came over and explained to me that there was contact with an official. It wasn’t meant to be. It’s just one of those deals were you’ve got a couple guys, whatever. (Walden) was really just trying to get away from the other player and accidentally I think it happened.”
Walden was ejected from a game last season after an altercation with Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker.
Wayne hurts arm
Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne came off the field in the first quarter after falling on his right arm. He returned, but had a couple of drops and was clearly affected by the injury.
“Go home, have an adult beverage and we’ll see how it feels in the morning,” Wayne said.
While he had four catches for just 15 yards, Wayne became the ninth receiver in league history to reach 14,000 career receiving yards. He also extended his streak of games with at least three receptions to 78, and a streak of games with at least one catch to 126.
“We got something special,” Wayne said of the Colts (5-2), who are enjoying a five-game win streak. “We felt like that going into the season that we got a lot of guys back healthy, that we can do something really special and these last five weeks are an indication showing you what we can do.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.